DADDY WILL PROTECT YOU
The California Police Chiefs Association met early in February, 1995 and passed a position paper concerning what they like to call gun-control. We had planned on publishing the entire CPCA position paper so you could see for yourself just what these people think of you. However, the California Assembly and Senate got so busy, we haven't room to give you the whole thing. Suffice it to say, that which we have to leave out is merely flavor, not the substance of the paper.
We have associated with many law enforcement officers over the years and can tell you that the officer on the beat generally divides the populous into three categories: cops, civilians and crooks. As the rank increases, the attitude begins to change to US and THEM. These Police Chiefs no longer trust the civilian population they have sworn to protect. They feel that all civilians are irresponsible, immature and dangerous to society. They feel it is their duty to control civilians to achieve a well-behaved society. If you feel those statements are too harsh, read on and decide if these people are acting in your best interest.
SUBJECT: GUN CONTROL
CONFRONTING THE AMERICAN TRAGEDY
The American historical legacy bears witness to the fact that the widespread personal possession and ownership of firearms is an ingrained part of our national heritage. The frontier ethic and the desire to remain free of undue governmental interference have in some form or another been intertwined with the ability of our citizenry to bear arms. Many Americans believe, rightly or wrongly, that the strength of our democracy is insured only by the underlying strength of an armed civilian population. (Perhaps what frightens these people is that you believe in the principles of the Founding Fathers. - ecr)
Just as the widespread possession of firearms is an American fact today, so too is the widespread tragedy that has accompanied the misuse of firearms. No longer are disputes settled by civilized means; rather, it is the gun that too often becomes the arbiter of first and lasting choice. We as a society have for far too long treated the tragic consequences that result from an armed America as but a footnote to the long, but falsely held, notion that a highly armed populous is necessary for the preservation of our freedoms. (How often do you have to prove to these people that an armed populous preserves freedom? - ecr)
Just a brief look at the statistics of gun violence should convince the most dispassionate observer that the misuse and ready availability of firearms are taking control of our communities. For example, in 1993 alone close to 40,000 Americans were killed by firearms of which more than 5,000 were Californians. In addition, the National Center for Disease Control estimates that for each firearm death, another ten people are shot yet survive. (A study of the statistics instead shows that firearm misuse is only 2% of self-defense use. - ecr)
Furthermore, while people are needlessly being shot, the sales of firearms soar to record levels. During 1993 Californians purchased approximately 650,000 firearms, and in 1994 even more may be sold. These numbers reflect the real fear and hopelessness many citizens feel as heinous acts of violence increasingly take a toll on society. We must address this environment of fear if we are to rein in what appears to be a ceaseless appetite for more and more guns. The premise that more guns in the hands of the civilian population makes for a safer environment certainly appears not to be the case. (The crime rate is decreasing, as is the number of victims who are not involved in criminal activities. There are more guns in the hands of honest citizens than ever before, and the gun-accident rate is dropping faster than any other death/injury statistic. This is the environment the Chiefs say is not desirable. - ecr)
Most of the current debate about firearms violence focuses on criminal misconduct. We believe that present statutes prohibiting the use of firearms in the commission of any crime must be enforced strongly and swiftly. To do otherwise is unconscionable. However, we cannot escape the fact that many of the firearms-related deaths and injuries occur not as a result of intentional criminal misconduct but because of accident, mistake and misinformation. (This is an outright lie. The study to which the Chiefs refer shows that 3.5% of firearms deaths fit their above description. - ecr)
Far too often gun violence occurs between family, friends, unintended victims and children; people whose lives are forever changed because a firearm was too readily available. (This follows the study that shows that 87% of "family" shootings were suicides. A similar study by the Chicago Police Detective Division in 1992 found that 72% of murderers and 66 percent of murdered had criminal histories. - ecr)
After long and thoughtful deliberation, the California Police Chiefs Association has concluded that the widespread and still largely uncontrolled individual ownership of firearms in our society must be re-evaluated. It is abundantly clear that the communities in which we are privileged to serve are under attack by a type and extent of violence not previously experienced. The weapons of that violence increasingly are firearms; firearms in the hands of drug dealers, robbers, mental incompetents, and, in many cases, otherwise law-abiding citizens who are untrained or emotionally ill-equipped to safely use a gun. As a result, the widespread and ready availability of firearms threatens to undermine the foundation of our social order.
The California Police Chiefs Association recognizes its responsibility to provide decisive and common-sense leadership necessary to help address the critically important and emotionally charged issue of gun control The lack of control over, and misuse of, firearms is one of the most daunting issues we must face if we are ever to address the tragedy that threatens the viability of our society. For far to long, the law enforcement community has stood silent permitting other voices to speak for us. As a consequence, the misuse of firearms has been focused upon soley as a crime problem rather than as a social crisis that threatens us all. The Association states as a (sic) unequivocal goal the saving of human lives through the substantive reduction in the misuse and availability of firearms. As a long-term social agenda, we believe that our nation would be well served by a social environment wherein firearms ownership and possession was a rarity. We recognize the reality, however, that large numbers of firearms will be a part of our lives for many years to come. We, therefore, believe that it is incumbent upon responsible citizens to articulate and support a specific social and legislative agenda that will reduce the root causes of violence and limit the opportunity for firearms to kill and injure innocent people.
As an initial step in what will undoubtedly be a long journey to reduce firearms violence, the California Police Chiefs Association adopts the following position with respect to firearms:"
(That is the preamble to their position paper. To save some space for other stories, we are going to synopsize and paraphrase the actual position statements. ecr)
A. REGISTRATION - Registration of all firearms and make possession of an unregistered firearm a felony.
B. OWNERSHIP AND POSSESSION - Ownership and/or possession of firearms licensed by the state.
C. MAGAZINE CAPACITY - No firearm to have a capacity of more than six bullets (sic).
D. STORAGE - All firearms to be stored locked and unloaded when not in use.
E. SAFETY STANDARDS - All firearms to be subject to consumer product safety standards designed to maximize a weapon's safety. Grandfathered firearms may only be sold to other family members for a period of ten years.
F. CONCEALED WEAPONS - The issuance and possession of a permit to carry a concealed weapon is a privilege granted to few persons. (This clause goes on to ask for definition of good cause, for background checks, psychological and medical examinations, training requirements, and liability insurance. - ecr)
G. ASSAULT WEAPONS - To be clearly defined as serving no recognized civilian purpose and be prohibited from ownership, possession, or sale. (The Founding Fathers were wrong in their definition of the Militia? - ecr)
H. UNLAWFUL POSSESSION - Make the unlawful purchase, sale, possession, or use of a firearm, chargeable as a felony and accompanied by a lifetime prohibition of firearms possession after conviction.
I. MANDATORY DESTRUCTION - Any firearm which comes into the possession of a law enforcement agency, shall be destroyed except for law enforcement use or museum donations. (In a related story, a recent poll of 386 police chiefs and sheriffs throughout the nation shows that only 3 percent of them think gun-control is an effective method of fighting crime. The poll was commissioned by the Death Penalty Information Center, so the chiefs and sheriffs were not asked to explain why they thought gun-control was ineffective. In responding to questions about the death penalty, however, ninety-two percent said they supported executions philosophically, while only 1 percent thought it was effective. We suspect this to also be the case in their thinking on gun-control. Even though gun-control is not an effective tool in fighting crime, laws making it illegal to possess a gun strikes back at the fear every cop has of getting shot. We feel this shows the distrust, and fear, many high ranking law-enforcement officers have of the public. - ecr)